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Bristol Festival of Ideas 2015

Coleridge Lecture:

Reimagining the City

By Melissa Harrison at Wills Memorial Building Reception Room, Bristol
2nd April 2015
Shelley thought “Hell is a city much like London” when he was writing in the early 19th century
1851 Urban population exceeded rural population in the UK, 1st time in the world that this had happened in a country.
It was thought city living “led to death of society”.
[I think that may have something to do with the Palace of Versailles culture.]
Today 82% live in urban environments with the following benefits:
·         Boosted immune response
·         Better mental health treatment
Birdlife saved in UK in 1962 by book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson about the damaging effects of DDT use as a pesticide to the food chain.
·         Bird of prey who are at the top of the chain were affected by a build up of DDT in their bodies and the effect was that the egg shells became thin and lost integrity leading to a rapid decline in bird populations
Nowadays bees like to dwell in cities to escape from the neo-nicotinoids being used as pesticides in the countryside.
Buddleias are an example of a modern invasive plant into the urban environment that has had a beneficial effect on the environment:
·         Created and supporting an entirely new urban food chain
·         Proving invasive new species can be a good thing

City dwellers can experience a new sense of wonder that exposure to nature will bring.


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